AT THE BEACH | We wish you full measure, Mike, pressed and shaken down

Mike Orsmond is an unassuming guy. He is trim. The Afrikaans expression “skraal” might even come to mind.

If you do not know, you are not going to know because he is unlikely to tell you that he is a two-time ex- world waveski champion and many times runner-up.

He has more SA titles than I have had breakfasts and again too many runners-up to mention.

Mr consistency, his general home is in the finals.

He has an easy smile and a ready laugh and if you want to know his results, you need to be a journalist who asks.

Quietly humble, he has a likable spirit and a nicer guy you will struggle to find.

Inside Mike’s slender form a world champion athlete explodes when he turns on the gas.

His performance is stellar. If you are an opponent, underestimate him at your peril.

At the age of 49, Mike says with a laugh: “I have just missed the next age division by a couple of months.

“I have not trained enough for this event,” he adds, because as the pastor of a small Baptist church in Wales, God, family and parish come first and good waves are a fair drive away from home.

That being said, one might hope that a little bit of spiritual favour from above might send him the best waves in the finals.

Mike is an ex-Selbornian. Beyond being a top waveski rider in his school years, he was also a first team water polo player.

Do not let the lean looks fool you. He achieved Border schools water polo colours, and if you know that game you are well aware it is not for the faint of heart.

Achieving his school dreams early and a junior world title, Mike was somewhat at the top of the pile at an early age and pretty much a happy camper with his self-actualisation.

Yet he was gently aware of a bigger picture and that life had more to offer. His girlfriend at the time had been on a Christian camp and had given her life to God.

“Let’s go to church,” she said.

“Yeah, why not” he answered, and so it all began.

Mike studied for his BCom at the Buffalo City chapter of the Rhodes University campus.

With a good balance of work and play, these were Mike’s best years of waveski surfing and he landed his degree.

He managed his best SA results and a world waveski open title.

Then he trotted off to London to earn some foreign currency and met a woman in Switzerland at a ski resort who was also working in London (he is now married to the same woman, Victoria, with whom he has two children Naomi, 11, and Hannah, 8, both of whom are stand-up surfers).

Mike and Victoria found a church they enjoyed in London and he was soon elected to leadership.

The church encouraged him to study and he quietly knocked off a theology degree with an honours in “Reading strategies of the old testament for preaching.” No problem with a waterlogged brain here.

Mike has been away from Buffalo City for 15 years now. He is thrilled to be back on this visit.

“It is great to see old mates again,” he said.

Long-time friend Michael Cowen said: “Wow, where do I start? We started waveski together at about 12 or 13 years of age and went to our first SA Champs together in J-Bay.

“He is an amazing, chilled, humble guy on land but yoh! in the water you will battle to find a more driven, focused competitor.

“He is one of the legends of the sport for SA and Great Britain.

“He has given a lot back to the sport. All round a lovely guy, easy to chat to but not good to compete against.”

Cowen is himself an SA champion, taking the first from Mike Orsmond one year. Cowen knows a good surfer when he sees one and is well qualified to comment.

The World Waveski titles will conclude on Saturday and Sunday this weekend, conditions depending.

Earlier in the week, this writer watched some of the surfing which was, unsurprisingly, world class.

Should Nahoon Reef raise her hand tomorrow and Sunday, the performances will be spectacular.

Current forecasts are favourable for great waves.

Compliments to Tristan Vianne, her work crew, Border Waveski and SA Waveski for a job of excellence and a feather in our cap.

Reef Royalty and the contest site is a wonder to behold and well worth a visit to see the best in the world in action.

Few things would please me more than to see Mike Orsmond with a gold medal in hand.

Welcome home, buddy. We wish you full measure, pressed and shaken down.


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